The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is announcing today that as a partner of the Wood for Life project, the National Forest Foundation has received more than $2 million through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand its firewood relief program for homes in tribal communities in the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain and Southwestern Regions.
“The work of Wood for Life and its partners is vital to tribal communities and the health of the nation’s forests and grasslands. This funding will have a significant impact for those that rely on firewood as a source of heat and offer job opportunities and skills building for youth in forestry. The Wood for Life project is a great model that can hopefully be expanded to support the health and wellness of tribal communities across the country.”
In addition to helping families heat their homes through firewood banks, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also funds forest restoration work to reduce wildfire risk and provide wood from those treatments to tribal communities. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and agency firewood bank initiatives, the Forest Service is investing more than $10 million in the Wood for Life program over the next five years, focusing on firewood banks serving tribal communities and aligning with USDA’s commitment to increasing investments in historically underserved communities. This work will also be implemented primarily by native, youth, and veteran crews, including Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps on the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona and the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado.
“We are grateful to Washington D.C. and the Forest Service for recognizing the value in this program. The funding reaffirms the hard work of all the Wood for Life partners. It truly takes a village to make this happen and we are excited to see what more we are able to achieve with this funding.”
Wood for Life funding in fiscal year 2023 will total $2,059,025 across three partner organizations – the National Forest Foundation, Conservation Legacy (Southwest Conservation Corps and Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps), and the Navajo Alamo School Board. As part of this total, Wood for Life and its partners will receive $1.7 million for new forest management projects, transporting wood to firewood banks in tribal communities, and resources to reach more families and scale up program efforts. Also included in the total is $351,250 in complementary funding to support firewood bank efforts in tribal communities to access, process and distribute firewood from forest management and restoration projects.
The National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service are also exploring possibilities of expanding the program across additional states to the many tribal communities that rely on wood heating.
The National Forest Foundation’s Wood for Life partnership is coordinated with the Forest Service, other government agencies, Indigenous communities and conservation nonprofits to address large-scale reforestation efforts in northern Arizona, Southwest Colorado and Idaho, while providing fuelwood to tribal communities for heating, cooking and traditional uses. In 2022, Wood for Life served thousands of families.